Balancing the pay scale this International Women's Day

We live in a modern world. A world where women continuously break the mould that was once put in place to keep them still. Yet, we evolve.

We’ve seen females break the glass ceiling and emerge without a scratch. 2018 alone was a year filled with stories of women who dominated their fields.

It was a year of many firsts, to highlight a few:

  • Women in Saudi Arabia were given the right to drive
  • Spain elected a majority female cabinet
  • Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
  • The Nobel Prize was awarded to an Iraqi woman (Nadia Murad) for the first time
  • Halima Aden became the first hijab-wearing fashion model to walk international runway shows

Most of all it was a year of progression.

In 2019 the gender pay gap (GPG) is alive and well. Less than one in seven companies in the UK pays women more than men. Meaning 78% of firms in the UK on average pay men more than women.

To  re-iterate just how severe the GPG is - there is no sector that pays women more than men.  Even the stereotypical job roles you’d associate with women pay men more. Such as Education which has one of the highest pay gaps after the Finance, Construction and Insurance sector.

Even HR managers have a GPG of 10% - which is lower than the UK GPG average across all industries which is 26.8%. 

This is why this International Women’s Day let’s not only celebrate how far we’ve come. Let’s put into perspective how far we can go.



The gender equality movement has been around for centuries, but the push to eliminate the GPG has become highly publicised in the past few years. Gaining the attention of politicians and celebrities alike.

The government put reporting regulations in place which legally requires large companies to publish their gender pay gap data. Additionally, all organisations must also follow an updated version of The Equality Act 2010 to promote equal pay among genders. 

Although these regulations are a step in the right direction. They highlight the difference rather than enforce change. With that said, how can we make a change?


It all starts with balance, the workforce needs to work in unison with the need for change. Here are some practical tips for tackling GPG:

Market value promotes parity

Research demonstrates that many people, including women struggle with negotiating their salary, even if they’re good negotiators. HR can reduce the risk of women being paid less by working with managers to understand and evaluate positions and the added value it has to the company. If job offers are based on market rate, rather than what the applicant’s previous salary was it could perhaps allow women to earn based on the value of the job.

Promote awareness

Keep an open door policy that allows room for discussion, feedback and routes for change such as progression for management schemes that are inclusive of women. HR directors can play a vital role by making sure GPG is understood by senior leaders. If it is understood, it will be easier to identify and implement the best actions to take. 

Transparency in remuneration packages

Companies can take a hands on approach to addressing the GPG issue by publishing the salary range for each job/grade. In addition to posting the criteria used to determine bonuses and promotions. Enabling this level of transparency is good for two reasons: it reassures staff of their pay grade and allows employees to identify abnormalities with their salary and take action.

Make sure promotions and pay rises are unbiased

Companies should monitor the progression of their employees to ensure they are progressing equally. It is important to track each employee’s: career progression, pay, promotion, and whether they’re all offered the same opportunities and incentives.

Employers should consider whether women employees are placed in jobs with similar pay and promotions to their male counterparts.

Are you giving all your employees the same opportunities to increase their management skills? Are they being given roles that are more lucrative than others?

Analyse wages across departments

HR can facilitate meetings between managers to discuss annual targets for salary scales resulting in sustainable goals, and comparison of salary across departments within business units.

Develop, monitor and evaluate your action plan

Monitoring pay scales within your organisation is a great first step, but organisations should develop a realistic plan that commands actual change.

Plans should be time scaled, measurable, it should focus on various employment areas, and have a clear outcome.

Internal and external case studies from within and outside of your sector will support your case for an action plan that creates an inclusive work environment for women, and other diverse groups.


Remember, all change is driven by those who want and actively pursue change. By pushing for change you can ensure that improving and eventually eliminating the GPG becomes recognised as ‘business as usual’ - equal pay should be the norm, not a privilege.

Balance for a better future. #IWD2019

about the author

Harriet Maidman - Manager, Digby Morgan

Manager, Digby Morgan